Even on the market's worst days, buyout news and other short-term forces can send individual stocks up by 10%, 25%, even 50%. For example, when the FCC gave approval for Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) to merge its WiMAX network with Clearwire, shares jumped more than 27%.

But beyond less-predictable events like that one are stocks with fundamentally compelling reasons for recent momentum. The trick is to find those stocks. That's where Motley Fool CAPS comes in.

The story behind the story
CAPS is no crowd of lemmings. Its best-performing members' opinions do more to shape each company's rating than the picks of their poorer-performing peers. Let's use the collective wisdom of more than 120,000 CAPS members to filter out the noise and find companies offering strong momentum.

We've used CAPS' handy stock-screening tool to quickly zero in on companies with a stock-price increase of at least 30% in the past four weeks, a market cap of greater than $100 million, and a beta of less than 3.

Here's a sample of stocks our CAPS screen returned:


CAPS Rating
(Out of 5)

Price Change

Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK)



Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD)



Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC)



Source: Motley Fool CAPS. Price return from Oct. 10 through Nov. 7.

What a gas!
While mark-to-market accounting is now exposing the true colors of many faltering banks and financial institutions, the measure of asset value is still inflating the numbers of some firms, including Chesapeake Energy. This major natural gas producer managed to sidestep falling prices for its primary product by using derivatives to hedge its cash flow, a common practice among E&Ps like Anadarko and Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB). Its hedges accounted for huge unrealized gains, which pushed third-quarter net income up from $346 million to $3.28 billion year over year.

In addition to its accounting advantages, Chesapeake posted more tangible improvements. It boosted its overall energy output by 15% in the quarter, and increased its proven reserves to 12.1 trillion cubic feet of gas, from 10.88 trillion at the beginning of the year. The company recently secured a new credit line to help fund future capital expenditures, giving the company greater flexibility to pursue ample opportunities.  

After Wall Street watchers saw Chesapeake's shares slashed by more than half amid increased selling pressure for the entire energy sector, speculation began to mount that its natural gas reserves could provide a great growth opportunity for a larger company. But even though CEO Aubrey McClendon had to sell his common shares of the company's stock to meet his personal margin loan calls, management has reassured investors that the company is well-positioned to get through the turmoil currently battering the market. The majority of CAPS members rating the company agree, with 97% of them expecting Chesapeake Energy to outperform the market from here.

Seeing green in black gold
Oil-and-gas exploration and production company Anadarko Petroleum has also seen shares suffer, along with sector peers like ExxonMobil and Chevron (NYSE:CVX), as oil prices fall. That plunge has not only provided a stimulus in disguise to cash-strapped consumers, but also given bullish energy investors a chance to snap up shares of Anadarko at levels they haven't seen in several years.

Anadarko also used successful hedging to bring in a strong third quarter. Its non-cash hedging gains were put on the books at current market value using mark-to-market accounting. That helped bring third-quarter net income to $2.16 billion, more than four times the year-ago level of $481 million. Like Apache (NYSE:APA), Anadarko has been disciplined in its spending and generated strong cash flow during a volatile time.

Even excluding the gain on derivatives, net income derived from Anadarko's third quarter beat analyst expectations. Production rose more than 8% from a year ago, and the company's met or exceeded its production guidance for seven consecutive quarters now. That strong performance has many CAPS members predicting an eventual turnaround in shares. More than 97% of the 1,260 members rating Anadarko expect it to beat the market.

And you?
What's your story? Whether you buy the tale of a stock that's soaring or souring, your own research is more important than collective opinions. Still, CAPS' insights can make your due diligence a whole lot easier.

Add your take on these or any of the nearly 5,400 stocks that our 120,000-plus members have covered in Motley Fool CAPS. It's totally free to be a part of the community, and the payback is more than worth it.

The Motley Fool Inside Value team is digging up dozens of cheap stocks with market-beating potential. To see which great companies are trading way below intrinsic value today, check out a free 30-day trial to our newsletter service.

Fool contributor Dave Mock has his own story, but there's no "happily ever after" at the end of it. He owns shares of ExxonMobil. Enterprise Products Partners is an Income Investor selection. Sprint Nextel and Chesapeake Energy are Inside Value recommendations The Fool's disclosure policy has the momentum of a freight train, but can stop on a dime.